The Ultimate Guide to Dog-Friendly Road Trips: Must-Visit Dog-Friendly Destinations

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We all need a good adventure from time to time. And anyone who owns a dog knows the stress and struggle of traveling only to leave your loved one (furry loved one behind). That is why we put together a list of must-visit dog-friendly destinations for your next road trip. Just envision it now: you and your co-pilot cruising on the open road, windows down, not a care in the world. Whether you're a seasoned road tripper or planning your first journey, this guide is packed with tips, tricks, and must-visit destinations to ensure both you and your furry friend have the time of your lives.

    Is a Road Trip a Good Idea for Your Dog?

    This is a valid question! And one that is worth considering seriously before buckling up for your adventure. Just like humans, not all dogs are the best fit for a long road trip. Some dogs are simply more comfortable in the car than others, for starters. Your dog may be on the other end of the spectrum (like ours is) and get car sick every time she gets in a vehicle. It is important to take inventory of your dog's health - if they are weak, old, or have medical issues that require a vet's regular attention, a road trip may not be for them. Remember, the ultimate goal is to ensure both you and your dog have a fun and enjoyable experience, so their comfort and happiness should always come first.

    How Long Can a Dog Be in a Car for a Road Trip?

    Another good question, right? Again, this can vary depending on the dog. Some dogs seem to be comfortable holding it all day long, but a good rule of thumb is that every couple hours you should make a stop. Even if your dog does not have to go, this will allow you both to stretch your legs, lap some water, and get your blood flowing! This will translate to a happier (and healthier) travel companion.

    Planning Your Trip

    Choose Your Route Wisely

    We think you can never over plan, especially when you got your bff with you. Try to find routes that have plenty of rest stops, dog-friendly spots or sites along the way. There are actually apps to help with this! Check out the app BringFido, which  helps you locate dog-friendly hotels, dog parks, and even dog-friendly restaurants! 

    Pack Essentials for Your Pup

    Just like you wouldn’t forget your toothbrush, don’t forget Fido’s essentials:

    • Water and Food Bowls: Collapsible ones are a real space-saver.
    • Dog Food and Treats: Bring enough for the trip, plus a little extra.
    • Leash and Collar: Ensure they're sturdy and comfortable.
    • Identification Tags: In case of an unexpected escape.
    • Waste Bags: Because nobody likes a messy situation.
    • Toys and Comfort Items: Familiar items can ease anxiety in new environments.

    Health Checks

    Before you daredevils hit the road, you should make sure that both of you are healthy, and up-to-date on your vaccinations! 

    On The Road

    Safety First

    If you do not have a dog seat belt or a travel crate, you should get one to keep your dog safe while you log all those miles. A crate or a seat belt not only secures your dog, but it also will limit distractions for you while you are driving (in case they get the good idea to hop on your lap while). 

    Frequent Pit Stops

    As we mentioned above, you should try to stop every couple hours. Rest stops are perfect for this. These pit stops are key to letting out some pent up energy, and to play!

    Keep It Comfortable

    Your dog’s comfort is key to a successful road trip. If your dog gets anxious, consider bringing along a blanket, vest or bed they’re familiar with. Playing soft music or having a quiet time activity like a chew toy can also help keep them calm.

    Must-Visit Dog-Friendly Destinations

    Portland, Oregon

    If you haven't been to Portland, you are missing out. Period. The whole vibe of Portland is cool, laid back, and 100% dog friendly. If you don't believe us, one of their most famous breweries is the Lucky Labrador Brewing Company.. enough said. If you like to sip craft beer while your dog enjoys canine company, this is the spot for you.

    Why We Love Portland

    Portland (a.k.a. puppy paradise) is known for its love of dogs. There are dog-friendly spots throughout the city which makes it a low-stress visit when you're with your pooch.

    Forest Park offers miles of trails perfect for a vigorous hike, while the Sandy River Delta provides a great spot for off-leash adventures. Portland’s community events often include dog-centric activities, so there’s always something fun to do. 

    Austin, Texas

    Austin is another laid-back, dog-friendly city. Its atmosphere makes it another perfect choice for people who are traveling with-dog. Zilker Park which has something for everyone, including a dog-park and picnic tables, is a must-visit, offering off-leash areas and beautiful scenery. 

    Sedona, Arizona

    We put Sedona on the list for all the hiking peeps and pooches out there. It is an out-of-this-world landscape of red rocks, filled with dog-friendly hiking trails. The stunning red rock landscapes offer numerous dog-friendly trails. After a day of exploring, relax at one of Sedona’s pet-friendly accommodations.

    More About Sedona, Arizona

    Sedona's unique red rock formations provide a truly breathtaking backdrop for your outdoor adventures. Along with its many pet-friendly trails, such as the Bell Rock Pathway and Devil’s Bridge Trail, Sedona also offers several spots where your pup can cool off and splash around in the water. Oak Creek is a favorite among locals and visitors alike, offering both tranquility and natural beauty.

    For those looking to unwind after a day of hiking, Sedona’s pet-friendly hotels and lodges ensure that your dog can rest comfortably by your side. Many of these accommodations offer pet amenities, like dog beds and treats, making sure your furry friend feels right at home.

    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Okay, we know you think we are coming out of left field with this one. Philadelphia is a city rich in history and culture, but did you know it’s Philly also very, very dog-friendly? It has a ton of parks and cafes that are dog friendly. 

    Even if you aren't a history buff, you can appreciate a stroll through the historic district, with many outdoor areas that are pet-friendly (especially around Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell). There’s nothing quite like taking a leisurely walk and absorbing the rich history of the nation’s birthplace with your dog by your side.

    After a day of fun and food, retire to one of Philadelphia's numerous pet-friendly accommodations. Many hotels, such as Kimpton Hotel Monaco and The Logan, go the extra mile to ensure your pet feels comfortable, providing dog beds, treats, and sometimes even pet sitting services.

    Tips For A Smooth Trip

    Acclimatize Your Dog

    Maybe your dog does not love long car rides. Join the club. What you could try to do is start by taking shorter trips and gradually increase the length of time in the car, always rewarding them at the end of the rides.

    Hydration Is Key

    Keeping hydrated is key, for both of you. Bring a bottle for you, and a bowl for them, or a portable dispenser (there are plenty of good ones on the market these days). 

    Keep Your Pup Entertained

    Like having a toddler in the car, having a bag of toys and snacks with you can make the trip a hell of a lot easier. 

    Be Prepared For The Unexpected

    "Expect the unexpected" - someone once said. And this is never more true than on a long road trip. Packing first aid kits for you and your dog is a good idea, and knowing what cities or towns along the way have emergency vet centers is also a good idea!

    Maintain A Routine

    Dogs thrive on routine, so try to keep mealtimes and walk times consistent with what they’re used to at home. This can help reduce anxiety and make the trip more enjoyable for your furry friend.

    Wrapping Up Your Adventure

    Capture The Memories

    Don’t forget to document your adventure! Take plenty of photos and videos to capture the special moments shared with your pup. These memories will be cherished long after you’ve returned home.

    Relax And Enjoy

    Above all, remember that this trip is about bonding and having fun with your dog. Embrace the spontaneity that comes with road trips and enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

    Share Your Experience

    Of course this is optional, but friends and fam would love to hear (and see) all about your adventures once your back. You could get even more spicy by creating a shared photo album so you can document your adventures on the road!

    Final Thoughts

    Taking a dog-friendly road trip is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have as a pet owner. With the right preparation and a spirit of adventure, you and your pup can create unforgettable memories together. So pack those bags, buckle up, and get ready for the trip of a lifetime!

    Happy travels from all of us! If you’ve got any tips or favorite dog-friendly destinations of your own, we’d love to hear about them in the comments. And for more pet-friendly travel inspiration, be sure to follow our page!

    This guide aims to provide pet owners and travel enthusiasts with everything they need to know for a successful and enjoyable dog-friendly road trip. If you found this post helpful, share it with your fellow dog-loving friends and let’s get more paws on the road!


    Are Road Trips Stressful (i.e. too stressful) for Dogs?

    Before our first road trip with our dog, we were concerned about this as well. Was she even going to enjoy it? If not, what was the point? Short answer: for some dogs, especially for those who do not love the car, a road trip may be stressful for them. For other, more adventurous pups, however, they will embrace the adventure. Keep in mind that you can always mitigate stress by making frequent pit stops, playing their favorite jams, and keeping them well fed and well hydrated.

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